Outdoor Grow Guide

Cannabis Outdoors​

Introduction Guide on Growing Cannabis Outdoors

Introduction Guide on Growing Cannabis Outdoors

There’s nothing more rewarding than growing cannabis in the most natural setting of all – the great outdoors. Whether you have multiple acres at your disposal or just a small raised bed in your backyard – growing cannabis outdoors is a genuinely rewarding experience.

If you’re ready to take the plunge in cultivating cannabis outdoors, then read this in-depth introduction guide to learn everything from A-Z about growing top-shelf cannabis outdoors.

Why Grow Cannabis Outdoors?

Whether you’re after medical-grade cannabis or you don’t want to pay the high prices at legal cannabis dispensaries near you – growing marijuana outdoors is something that nearly anyone can do.

It’s Cheaper

When compared with indoor cannabis operations, growing cannabis outdoors is much cheaper. Outdoor cannabis relies on the natural light that’s produced by the sun instead of the light that’s generated by costly HID bulbs. 

When growing cannabis indoors, cultivators are forced to pay costly electricity bills from powering 600-1,000-watt metal halide and high-pressure sodium bulbs. Furthermore, indoor growing environments suffer from high heat that also compounds the electricity bill. In general, indoor cultivators use AC units, which require a large amount of electricity to decrease a room’s temperature.

Reach For The Skies

Growing cannabis outdoors allows your plants to reach their maximum potential, which means they can grow without the space limitations that are typically found in indoor grow rooms.

The larger an outdoor cannabis plant grows – the larger the final yield will be. This is because there are numerous bud sites in which flowers will form. Outdoor cannabis growers benefit from larger yields that would make any indoor cannabis grower jealous.

It’s Well Suited For Beginners

If you’re new to growing cannabis, then beginning outdoors is potentially your best option. Growing marijuana outdoors requires minimal investment in terms of equipment and supplies. 

Moreover, it’s uncommon to use hydroponics when growing cannabis outdoors, which has a steeper learning curve for beginners.

Growing cannabis in soil outdoors is much more forgiving for beginners, and many newbies find that it’s less stressful since they do not have to build-out an entire cannabis grow room. 

Although growing cannabis is not a simple task, the experience is much less difficult when growing cannabis outdoors – in general.

The Outdoor Cannabis Life Cycle

Now that you understand the primary benefits of growing cannabis outdoors let’s take a look at the cannabis life cycle and how it’s affected by the great outdoors.

The Germination Stage

Cannabis cultivators have two options when it comes to germinating cannabis seeds outdoors. You can either plant the cannabis seed directly outdoors, or you can germinate the cannabis seed indoors.

The germination process is a biological reaction that’s initiated by temperature and moisture. Cannabis seeds require elevated temperatures and a great deal of moisture to begin the chemical process of germination.

If you choose to germinate your cannabis seeds outdoors directly in the ground, then you must do it after the last frost. By doing so, you’ll ensure that your cannabis seed will germinate instead of rotting underground.  

Remember, cannabis seeds must be planted 1-2cm deep in the soil, which is fairly shallow. During the germination phase, you’ll need to check the planting area to make sure pests don’t eat the seeds. 

As the germination process begins, the root and shoot will emerge. The root naturally finds the way down due to gravity, while the shoot begins to push upwards to find the light. Once the shoot emerges, the germination phase is over, and the next stage begins. 

However, if you decide to germinate cannabis seeds indoors, you can choose from a number of germination techniques. You may use the paper towel method or germinate your seeds directly in a cup of soil. Once the cannabis seed germinates, you may transplant the seedling outdoors. 

The germination phase takes between 2-7-days, depending on various factors, such as temperature and moisture. However, this time frame may also differ depending on the vigor of the seeds. 

It’s important to note the fragility of cannabis seeds during the germination process, and it’s essential not to move the seeds while they are producing a root and shoot. Remember – this is the first moment of your cannabis plant’s life, which means you should make sure they are healthy every step of the way.


The Seedling Phase

A cannabis plant enters the seedling phase once the shoot emerges from the soil. In the case of outdoor cannabis plants, the seedling stage is incredibly vulnerable to pests and wildlife. 

If you chose to germinate your cannabis seeds outdoors, then they should be in the spot that they will remain for the rest of their lives. However, if germinated your cannabis seeds indoors, then it’s time to transplant the seedlings into a larger container into the soil.

Typically, wildlife, such as deer, rabbits, and moles, enjoy feeding on cannabis seedlings. Aside from being a delicious treat for various animals, cannabis seedlings are also vulnerable to being stepped on.

This is why it’s essential to fence off your outdoor grow space and place visual markers to alert anyone in the area from stepping in the seedlings. If a cannabis seedling is stepped on – it’s unlikely that it will recover. 

The seedling stage for cannabis plants is marked by the growth of its first “true” leaves, which differ from the original cotyledons that appear after germination. The cotyledons play a significant role in feeding cannabis seedlings for the first 2-3-weeks of their lives. This is why it’s important that you do not provide additional fertilizers at this point. 

Therefore, the seedling phase lasts for 2-3-weeks. You’ll notice between 2-3 nodes of growth by this point, in which your cannabis plant will enter the next stage of growth.


The Vegetative Stage

The vegetative stage of a cannabis plant growing outdoors is markedly different than cannabis plants grown indoors. The primary reason behind this is that outdoor cannabis crops rely on the changing of the season to transition from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage.

In the case of the vegetative stage outdoors, cannabis crops typically have 3-full months of growth – depending on when you decided to germinate cannabis seeds. If the last frost occurred in May, then the vegetative period will last from June to August.

During these summer months, the sun reaches its zenith directly overhead, which gives your outdoor cannabis plants an abundance of sunshine. It’s during this phase that your cannabis plants will experience explosive growth.

During the vegetative phase, your cannabis crops will produce vertical and horizontal growth. This means that your marijuana plants will grow in height and spread out across the land to soak up as much light as possible. The result is a massive cannabis tree that contains a plethora of branches and leaves.

Outdoor cannabis plants look much different than indoor cannabis plants because they are much larger and heavily built. The stems look more like tree trunks, and each your outdoor grow patch may soon resemble a forest as the summer months rage on.

There’s nothing quite as awe-inspiring as a backyard full of cannabis plants that are allowed to grow to their maximum potential. The aroma, the deep shade of green, and the knowledge that each of the plants will produce an abundant harvest will keep you motivated for the next stage that follows.

It’s essential to note that your cannabis crop will show its sex during the vegetative phase. However, this may be a stressful period for outdoor growers because multiple plants may show male pre-flowers. In this case, it’s imperative to destroy the males before the flowering stage begins.

Although it’s a shame to destroy a healthy male that has been growing for months – it’s even worse if a single male pollinates your entire crop. The last thing you want in your outdoor cannabis field are flowers filled with seeds come harvest time.

As the sun’s rays begin to weaken, and the daylight hours begin to decrease as autumn approaches, your cannabis plant will begin the much-anticipated flowering stage.


The Pre-Flowering Stage

By this point, your cannabis plants will have showed their sex. Now that the sun isn’t as high in the sky and the daylight hours are decreasing, your plants will naturally respond. It’s this moment that indoor cannabis growers try to mimic with the 12/12 light schedule.

The pre-flowering stage is the beginning of the overall flowering period. In general, the flowering stage can last anywhere from 9-10-weeks. However, depending on the cannabis strain used, it may take more or less time.

Normally, sativa cannabis strains have a longer flowering period, and indica-dominant cannabis strains have a shorter flowering time. It’s essential that you pick a cannabis strain that’s well-suited to your outdoor environment.

During the pre-flowering stage, your cannabis plant may stretch upwards of 100-200%. If your outdoor marijuana plant is already large – prepare yourself for a giant cannabis plant.

During the pre-flowering stage, you’ll notice that each node will produce bud sites that contain small hairs, which are known as pistils. Each of these sites will continue to grow, generating the much-sought-after cannabis flower.

The pre-flowering stage lasts 2-weeks, and you’ll notice that your plant has grown significantly, and a multitude of bud sites have appeared.


The Flowering Stage

The flowering stage is the phase that every outdoor cannabis grower anticipates. It’s during this stage that the flower increases in size and trichome production. As the weeks go by, the cannabis flowers will swell, and the overall aroma will reach its peak.

It’s essential that you prepare your plants before the flowering phase with support structures. As the flowers swell in size, they pose a danger to the branches, which is why support poles are a must-have.

It’s during this phase that you’ll need to keep a vigilant watch, primarily for wildlife and even thieves who may attempt to cut down a harvest prematurely. There are many obstacles during the flowering stage, and a variety of factors can make or break your harvest.

If you’ve planned accordingly prior to beginning your outdoor growing adventure, you’ll be endowed with a bountiful harvest of gorgeous cannabis flowers.


Choosing the Right Strain

Now that you understand that basic guidelines on the various stages of growth, let’s take a look at how to choose the best strain for your outdoor crop.

There are thousands of unique cannabis strains that are sativa-dominant, indica-dominant, or outright hybrids. It’s essential to do as much research as possible to understand dominant traits, which will directly affect your outdoor grow.

Here are the most notable aspects to consider when choosing a cannabis strain for your outdoor marijuana garden.

Flowering Time
Trichome Coverage
Overall Height
Flower Density

Each of these factors plays a significant role because one or more of these traits can make or break your outdoor garden. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

If you live in a Mediterranean climate, such as Southern California, then you can rest assured that you can choose a cannabis strain with a long flowering period. The primary reason behind this is because Southern California has mild conditions during autumn and winter. However, you must pick a short flowering stain when growing in Northern latitudes, such as Minnesota, due to the rapid onset of fall.

By understanding the weather patterns of your environment, you can easily find the best cannabis strain for your area. The last thing you want to do is grow a full-blown sativa heirloom in a Northern state, only to find that autumn is approaching, and you’re still left with a full month of flowering.

By understanding your region, you won’t be left in the lurch as natural weather patterns turn for the worse.

The same goes for flower density. If you purchase a cannabis strain that produces ultra-dense indica flowers, but you live in a high-humidity area, then you have an increased risk of bud rot. However, if you choose a cannabis strain that is resistant to mold or produces airy flowers, then you should not have significant issues relating to bud rot.

One of the most important considerations when choosing a cannabis strain is the resistance factor. By choosing a cannabis strain that’s naturally resistant to negative factors, such as mold, pests, diseases, and more, you’ll increase the chance that you’ll have a smooth experience.

However, if you fail to look for a resistant cannabis strain, you may find your crop overwhelmed by spider mites, bud rot, root rot, or any number of dangerous pathogens.

Lastly, you’ll always want to consider the yield of a potential cannabis strain. It’s unlikely that you’ll choose a low-yielding cannabis strain – especially when it’s taken up to 6-months to get to the flowering phase.

You must remember that everything takes longer when growing cannabis outdoors, primarily because you’re growing marijuana in a natural setting. By choosing the right strain, all of these months will not have been in vain. Instead, your decision to choose the right strain will provide a generous yield of cannabis flowers.

Other Important Factors to consider

It’s essential to understand that there is a specific timeframe that you must abide by when growing cannabis outdoors. Marijuana plants are photosensitive, which means they act according to the amount of light that they receive.

Now, take into consideration the time it takes for cannabis plants to germinate, become seedlings, vegetate, show their sex, and finally, flower. This entire process can last anywhere for 4-6-months, which is why you must learn when to plant your cannabis seeds or clones.

It’s generally understood that the best time to plant cannabis seeds outdoors is in the middle of April. However, you can also begin your cannabis seeds indoors during March and move them outside into the garden by April.

For clones, It’s best to plant them during April as well, in which they will have a month headstart on cannabis seedlings. However, this means that your cannabis clones will be very large in size.

If you can’t have massive cannabis trees, then it’s essential that you plant your cannabis seeds or clones in the middle of May – or even the beginning of June. By doing so, your plants will have less time to vegetate, which means less overall growth.

Choosing the right cannabis nutrients for your outdoor grow is essential because this is the food that your plants rely on. However, the nutrients may differ if you decide to grow directly in the ground versus plants in pots filled with soil.

Furthermore, the question of nutrients for your outdoor cannabis crop is thrown into further confusion when considering the overall size of the garden. You’ll require drastically different nutrients when growing on acres of land compared to a small raised bed in your back yard.

Let’s take a look at how the size of your outdoor cannabis garden will determine which nutrients are required.

When growing cannabis on a large parcel of land, it’s not feasible or affordable to purchase bagged or bottled nutrients. Instead, you must rely on the composition of the soil and the nutrients that it already contains.

You can find this out by testing your soil by sending a soil sample to a soil analysis company. This should not prove to be difficult because soil analysis is a common practice throughout all agricultural economies.

Once you find out your soil content, you may decide to apply additional nutrients to boost the nutrient content for your incoming cannabis crop.

The best way to introduce nutrients to your soil is by using bulk additives, such as cow, chicken, or donkey manure. Not only are these types of manure cheap, but they are also rich in nutrients.

Remember, cannabis consumes a lot of nitrogen, which means you’ll need a nitrogen-rich nutrient when aiming to grow a large number of cannabis plants.

In general, it’s supposed that large-scale cannabis producers must place up to 400-lbs of nitrogen, 200-lbs of phosphorous, 265-lbs of potassium, and up to 60-lbs of sulfur per acre to ensure a productive cannabis crop.

However, if you’re growing cannabis in your backyard, the numbers are far different. Instead of requiring so much nutrient, it’s economically feasible to cultivate cannabis outdoors with the help of bagged soil and bottled fertilizer.

Furthermore, a handful and additives, such as mycorrhizae and beneficial bacteria, will go a long way in ensuring the health of your outdoor cannabis crop. It’s essential that you stick with notable brands, such as Advanced Nutrients, Fox Farm, Botanicare, B.C. Grow, and Humboldt Nutrients.

Many of these brands sell bagged soil that’s enriched with nutrients, which makes it easy to fill a container and place a cannabis seedling or cannabis clone. Another option is to fill containers with “normal” soil and use bottled nutrients for the bulk of the nutrient content.

In general, cannabis plants that are planted directly into the ground have a larger root zone, which means they have a larger appetite for nutrients. However, it’s always best to pay close attention to how your plants respond after each feeding to gain useful insight into how they like (or dislike) the nutrients.

Here are a few extra considerations when growing cannabis outdoors. Each of these factors will help you increase your overall yield, decrease infestations, and have a stress-free experience.

  • Secure your outdoor grow with fencing
  • Never place lights near your outdoor cannabis plants at night
  • Always use organic pesticides, such as Neem oil, for preventative care
  • Always add support poles throughout your cannabis plant
  • Always monitor the underside of leaves to inspect for pests
  • Never tell anyone about your outdoor cannabis garden
  • When in doubt, feed your cannabis plant less
  • Provide shade during heatwave days
  • Provide coverage during rainstorms

By considering these simple yet effective factors, you’ll ensure the health of your outdoor cannabis garden.

Your Journey to Becoming a Green Thumb

Now that you’re ready to grow cannabis outdoors, you’re at the beginning of a long journey in becoming a green thumb. Growing cannabis isn’t easy, but it’s absolutely possible if you plan ahead and take this guide into consideration.

There’s no better time than now to start your outdoor cannabis garden. The outdoor growing season is nearly here – are you ready?

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Need a Full Guide?

We Have All The Right Techniques!

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